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Congressional Controversy over Planned Parenthood Taking Toll On FL Women

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Advocates say Florida women seeking critical health care services may find themselves caught in a political battle. Credit: Steve Debenport/iStockPhoto.com
Advocates say Florida women seeking critical health care services may find themselves caught in a political battle. Credit: Steve Debenport/iStockPhoto.com
 By Mona ShandContact
October 13, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - While Congress continues to debate the future of funding for Planned Parenthood, women's health advocates say months of controversy are negatively impacting efforts to provide critical services to Florida women.

Laura Goodhue, executive director of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, says the state's 16 health centers which provide abortion services have spent the past few months dealing with red tape and have been subject to surprise visits and inspections, none of which turned up any evidence of wrongdoing.

With so many Florida women living in medically under-served areas, she questions the use of resources.

"Thirty-four percent of counties don't have an OBGYN provider," says Goodhue. "We think access to preventive care for women is so crucial, and we know that there's a lot of barriers."

The controversy over Planned Parenthood began over the summer, when an anti-abortion group released now-discredited undercover videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood profits from the sale of aborted fetuses.

Last week, the House voted to create a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood, virtually ensuring the controversy will continue into next year.

Goodhue says the turmoil has created more hostile legislative atmosphere surrounding women's health in Florida. She points to the first bill filed this session, House Bill 1, which would require abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinic.

"It has nothing to do with medically-necessary licenses or privileges for providers, but everything to do with making it harder for women to access abortion care," says Goodhue.

Similar legislation, known as TRAP, or Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, has passed in other states, including Texas, where Goodhue says it eventually led to the closure of several health centers and a longer waiting list for abortions in those areas.


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